By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78
...It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace... Hebrews 13:9
As I wrote last Wednesday in "Continue the Work," it's not unusual for sorrow to come upon me when I think of the work the Lord has led me to do here in the Dassel-Cokato area, especially now that we're transitioning out of this community. When I wrote on May 6, I didn't say much about what the particular part of God's Work in this community that God has especially called me to do is. I'd like to take these few minutes before I need to leave for my morning bus route just to say something about that, and then to return quickly to the ways of peace and grace that were quoted from Luke and Hebrews above.
I believe that many of the poor decisions that people make in our community (and elsewhere) are brought about by people not knowing what to do about the psychological or emotional pain that they feel. Instead of running to God's mercy, grace and peace, they do things that make them feel good. Oftentimes those "coping strategies" make things much worse, putting themselves at risk, leading them to take ever more desperate steps to handle life, moving them into a lifestyle of relational thrill seeking, drug use and illegal or just plain stupid behaviors.
What's the way out? When Jesus encountered desperate people, he showered them with grace and Holy Spirit led healing. He did not come to them with judgment. I haven't taken time this morning to look up the scripture passages, and there aren't obvious examples of drug use etc. in scripture, but when I see Jesus dealing with demon possessed folks, I think it's about the same thing. He brought healing, hope and freedom. He didn't cut them down.
I believe that's a big part of what God put Crossroads Community Church here for in our community is to be a ministry center where desperate people can find mercy, where "those who sit in darkness" and "the shadow of death" can see light. In fact, and I say this by way of confession, I think there's a sense in which God put me here in this community for this purpose--to be one of those who reach out with mercy and not judgment. I hear many believers in our community talking about others with little compassion or attempt to understand. They just see people's self-defeating behaviors and believe they should be cut off from help so they can pick themselves up.
When I am sad, when sorrow comes upon me, I wonder if others will pick up the slack when I move on. I wonder if Crossroads or other churches will have the vision or energy for this work going forward. I recognize there is some pride and maybe some lack of faith in that statement, because, as God has been saying to me, the body of our Lord is designed to work together and there is no one part that is more important than others. Please seek the Lord on this and pray for me as I transition to where God is calling me next.
That's all I have time to write at the moment. This piece is incomplete and probably poorly written, but it's time for me to get ready for the day.
Pray for those who need grace right in the middle of their worst days. For some, it will be today that they need someone to come alongside them, not with judgment, but with mercy and the power of God.
In Jesus' name.